Why Anxiety Drugs are Addictive
March 04, 2010
Valium-like drugs use the same potentially addictive "reward pathways" in the brain as heroin and cannabis, according to new research.
Researchers found that so-called benzodiazepine drugs, such as Ativan, Xanax and Valium, exert a calming effect by boosting action of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the same way as addictive drugs like opioids and cannabinoids.
This in turn activates the gratification hormone, dopamine, in the brain, showing that the same brain "reward pathways" are used by both types of drugs.
People with higher levels of dopamine in the brain tend to be more prone to addictive behavior.